I have to admit that I jumped for joy when I found out that the Iowa supreme court ruled that the law banning gay marriage was unconstitutional. In case you haven’t heard about this, here is a timeline of what took place. It isn’t only because I know the soon to be Varnums (Hi Kate and Trish, if you’re reading this) of the Varnum v. Brien case, but because I’ve come to realize that marriage really is a civil right. It isn’t that I was ever against gay marriage. I just didn’t understand what the big deal was.
I can’t imagine not being allowed to be with the love of my life if they lay dying in the hospital, or not being able to take advantage of my dependent benefits at work because the daughter that I raised with my partner is not biologically mine, and I can’t be considered a guardian because my partner is a woman. These are just a couple of the instances that I have had friends and family tell me about.
I was really pleased that the supreme court of Iowa ruled unanimously, but I was even more pleased to hear that the opinion that the court published was very well written. I’ve never actually read a court opinion before, but my husband wanted to print it off and read it. So I got to hear a lot of it, and it really is a well crafted statement showing that marriage is a civil right and that excluding someone from it based on their sexual orientation is discrimination.
It is enthralling hearing the details of the judges’ opinions weaved and crafted so skillfully into the law. I really think it’s worth at least perusing, for everyone, but here are a couple of the points that really stood out to me. The defendants argued that because marriage was traditionally between man and woman that it should continue to be so. The court ruled that that idea cannot be upheld because it would open up a precedent for all kinds of discriminatory behavior to continue just because it has always been so. The defendants also asserted that the law was put into place because it was in the best interests of children to live in a home with their mother and their father. The court ruled that if this were the purpose of this law, then the law was flawed in several respects. First of all, not all same sex couples wish to have children, so the law casts too broad a shadow. Second of all, it does not include others who are not likely not good caretakers of children (like child molesters) from marrying. Third, it begs the question of whether it truly is not in the best interest of children to have same sex parents, and the defense could not provide such evidence (whereas the prosecution showed numerous studies that suggest that growing up in a family with loving same sex parents is not a detriment, and actually has not shown a difference). Okay, I could go on and on about the tit for tat, but there is just one other point that I wanted to share. The judges ruled that there was an underlying (and unstated) reason for not allowing same sex marriage, and that reason was religious. The court ruled that religion absolutely cannot have a bearing on whether or not to allow civil marriage.
In addition to hearing this news on Friday, my husband and I ended up watching MILK this weekend. I really enjoyed the film, but one thing that I was surprised about was that in many ways the argument against gay rights hasn’t changed, and the fight for them seems to be generally in the same place that it was thirty years ago.
On the other hand, I’m living in the midwest, and the state just to the north of us just legalized gay marriage…so maybe we’re growing here, too. I was surprised and glad when a good friend who was openly gay won the mayoral seat in the rural town where my husband and I used to live. But then again, a couple of months ago, there was a big hoopla in that same town because people were fighting over whether or not to add sexual orientation to the city’s anti-discrimination document (protecting minorities from housing discrimination). One of the councilman voted against it and on camera says he would not rent to a gay person.
One of my favorite lines in MILK was a bit of actual footage where a woman stood up and asked an audience how they would teach their children to love those who were different than them, if they couldn’t get along with the gay rights group. I think it’s a good point. I’m all for teaching my kids that some people fall in love with people who are the opposite sex and some people fall in love with those of the same sex.
At the risk of opening up a can of worms, how do you intend to deal with the subject of homosexuality with your children? And any comments on the Iowa ruling?